Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood



Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."




Monday, December 5, 2016

Choices

What  happens when the movie you’re watching with your family, so closely resembles your life that you can’t breathe and you have to bite back tears?  And, your every intention of actually engaging in a fruitful Advent is already days behind, not because of Christmas preparations but because of everyday life stuff.  And what happens when the CD you’re listening to reminds you that you’ve broken the commandment of having no other God’s before you?  Not because you are worshiping an idol but because you’ve let life take over and you have no real prayer life.   And what happens when you realize in your self-wallowing that you are indulging in petty, selfish, pity all the while a family friend is fighting for every last day of his life and families have lost family members or homes to raging wild fires.  I’ll tell you what happens, you go to bed feeling pretty hopeless!  Hopeless because you realize numerous times throughout the day God has made it a point to show me that I’m where I am in life because of my own choices.  Everyday choices as simple as what am I going to wear today?  Do I stay in PJs as long as I can or do I get dressed all the way to my lace up shoes so that my brain knows it’s time to work, and not go back to bed.



Choices…in the movie I watched one of the characters says “Life is about choices…every step of the way.”  Choices?  How many do we make daily without even thinking about them?  Eat this or that, wear this or that, drink this or that, this or that, this or that, this or that, without any thought what so ever!  I’m late I’ll grab a coffee and donut at XYZ drive-thru before we have to go to, fill in the blank.  Then, how did I gain two pounds this week?  Choices have an effect, they have repercussions!  And before you know it you are 20+ years into your adult life, and you’re wondering how in the heck did I end up here?!

While recently reading the book The Rhythm of Life, I came across a chapter solely devoted to our purpose.  It states that we as a society have a hard time with commitment, we are unhappy and suicide rates are at an all-time high.  The author Matthew Kelly equates it for the most part, to that fact that we are a society that has lost our sense of purpose.  I can relate, I think not only have I lost my purpose, but I've also lost my way, and me.  All I can remember as a child is thinking I’m going to grow up and be a stay at home wife and mother.  Somewhere in there before I even knew what homeschooling was I knew I would teach my kids at home.  Some would call this my calling, but somehow I think it’s my purpose.  However, is there more to my purpose?  I believe there is.  I don’t think I fully understand what my purpose is.  Or, maybe I do, and I don’t know how to live it.  Either way, I feel frustrated most of the time, and I believe now, that it all goes back to having a real sense of purpose and the choices I make.



So how do I change?  What do I do differently?  Where do I begin?  Flylady says “You are not behind, jump in where you are.”  I think Father Larry Richards would say “start with making time for God, don’t just shoehorn Him in between shows or laundry or lessons.”  Time for God, time alone with my Lord at the well.  I so yearn for that!  Let me sit at your feet Lord, call me out, tell me what I’ve done wrong and then let’s talk, show me how to do what you want me to do.  Teach me to choose Your will,  not mine, teach me how to get out of myself and live as Saint Teresa of Calcutta did, for others.  Help me, Mary, to know what it means to choose wife and mother over self.

While researching for this blog post, I found an interesting song Any Road by George Harrison.  The lyrics spoke to me, after reading them all, I realized I don’t want to live that life, taking Any Road.  I want to choose my road!  I want to be like Robert Frost and take The Road Not Taken.  Care to join me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

If you’ve read some of my past posts you know I love books! All books! I love how they feel and smell! I love words and writings; it doesn’t matter if the book is a real book or on a nook or kindle or and audio book anything to do with the written word I love! So here is the problem with my obsession with books, most of the time I get them start reading them and don't finish them. Or, I buy the book with every intention of reading it after I read whatever book I happen to be reading/listening to at the time. However, it ends up on a shelf somewhere or my overflowing nightstand only to be forgotten about until I unearth it in one of my angry declutter moments!
There are a few books I’ve tried to read several times, but for one reason or another, I just can’t get into it. One book, in particular, freaks me out every time I try to read it. Then there is a book that my dear friend Megan recommended, I mean highly recommended that I read. She loves it so much she reads it EVERY summer! I have read only a couple of books more than once and only one series more than twice. I cannot begin to fathom loving a book so much you read it every year. I can’t even watch my favorite Christmas films every year. Yet, she really wanted me to read this book, and generally I can read what she recommends, our tastes are usually very similar. However, when she suggested Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, I could not get into it. I tried reading it several times, and every time, I thought I would die of boredom! How is possible Megan read this book once let alone every summer for who knows how many years?

Today the Holy Spirit had great fun at my expense. My daughter had a meeting. We ran out of the house so fast this morning that I forgot to grab something to do while she was in the consultation. My phone went from 32% battery to 0 and turned off in the snap of two fingers, UNBELIEVABLE I have so much to do! What am I going to do for an hour while she’s in this meeting?! So, I decided to ask the person my daughter was meeting with if she happened to have any light reading I could use while I waited. I’m thinking a magazine or something like that. Instead, Rosie starts naming books off to me. She apparently had quite a little library going on in her office. Also, she had a fabulous selection of tools for keeping your hands occupied as well. You know squishy toys, hand strengtheners, Thinking Putty (like Silly Putty). As Rosie is reading the titles off she throws out Gift from the Sea. I share how Megan told me to read this great book and how I could never get into it. I say I’ll take Gift from the Sea out of guilt, and maybe this time I’ll get into it, even though another title sounded so much more attractive! And, while I’m at it, I’ll borrow some of that Thinking Putty too.


With book, Thinking Putty and coffee in hand, I head to the lobby to wait. Often the waiting area is filled with lots of people, but today it is quiet and serene. I settled myself into one of the chairs, pulled out the putty and began to knead as I read the introduction. Wait a minute, I turn the book over, I read the back cover, is this the same book Megan recommended? It can’t be! I take out my small notebook and begin to jot down notes. There is no way this is the same book I tried to read before, it can’t be! Words started to jump off the page at me! One sentence and then another, was this woman living with me and observing my day to day life then writing about it? I felt like she was living in my head. From the introduction on I was dying to highlight and underline so much! To flag pages to refer to later. I had to restrain myself… this isn’t my book, just take notes, write down the pages you wish to flag that way after you buy the book you can mark those particular pages, I thought.
I read intently! Wait is this the same Anne Lindbergh married to Charles Lindbergh? The woman whose baby was kidnapped?! I checked the copyright date, 1955, I wasn’t even born when she wrote this book. How could this woman know me and my thoughts so intimately? She had written it before I was born, she was dead now. Why hadn’t these words struck me before, as they were now? I read again… “I had the feeling, when the thoughts first clarified on paper, that my experience was very different from other people's. (Are we all under this illusion?)” “Besides, I thought, not all women are searching for a new pattern of living, or want a contemplative corner of their own. Many women are content with their lives as they are. They manage amazingly well, far better than I, it seemed to me, looking at their lives from the outside. With envy and admiration, I observed the porcelain perfection of their smoothly ticking days. Perhaps they had no problems or had found the answers long ago. No, I decided, these discussions would have value and interest only for myself.”
These are my thoughts! How is it this woman wrote these words 61 years ago and was struggling with the same things I am? Have all woman struggled as I have been? Can’t be, this is just the introduction, it’s a fluke. Calming my racing thoughts, I read some more. Anne speaks of intently studying the empty shell of a hermit crab. How intricate it is, how small yet perfectly created it is, how absolutely beautiful it is today as it was they day it was made. “My shell is not like this, I think. How untidy is has become! Blurred with moss, knobby with barnacles, its shape is hardly recognizable anymore. Surely, it had a shape once. It has a shape still in my mind. What is the shape of my life?” The shape of my life? Blurred, knobby, definite descriptions of the chaos in my life. How did I end up thinking so much like one of America’s most famous people? I’ve read nothing by her or about her other than she was married to Charles, and her first born was kidnapped. I read on, she had a family, she was married, she had five children, a home in the suburbs, a craft for writing, work she wanted to pursue in writing. Anne wanted to give and take and share with her family, her friends, the community. She had obligations that she wanted to live out for man and the world as a woman, a citizen, and an artist. I felt like a mirror image of this woman except for the notoriety and the kidnapping.

“I want first of all—in fact, as an end to these other desires—to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact—to borrow from the language of the saints—to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible.” To be at peace with myself, to live in grace, peace, grace, my ultimate desires! To live in peace and grace. I sit my eyes damp with tears welling up, I bite them back. I’m only on the second chapter what does the Holy Spirit want me to get from this? Is He trying to tell me that all women struggle even rich and famous ones? Great! I get it, but is there a fix? Will I ever figure it out and get it right? I’m so exhausted, I need the peace and grace that will grant me rest and rejuvenation.

I express to three different people my story of attempted reading and how now it is completely different, nothing like I remember. How the Holy Spirit must have wanted me to read this book now, that I must need to hear it’s message now. All three people express their opinion that sometimes it’s a timing thing, other times it’s a receptive thing. Rosie tells me to keep it, keep the book! Mark it up to your heart's content, Rae the office manager is obsessed with the book and has extra copies all the time. However, I must promise to read Anne’s daughter’s biography of Anne after I finish this book. Rosie goes on to explain that the publisher had Anne make this book not just palatable but delicious. Anne’s biography reveals more deeply the grit and things she actually struggled with. And so, I pack everything up, book in hand and leave. I can’t wait to read and highlight, underline, mark, make notes and unearth what awaits for me. I can’t wait to see why it is Megan loves this book so much. I can’t wait to see if the answers my soul has been yearning for, so deeply, are revealed to me through this small little book.

As I write this I begin to contemplate, just the small amount I’ve read shows a woman’s heart in discord, pain, and struggling if this is the beautiful version how much more did this woman go through? I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to have your child stolen from your home and later found dead. My only comparison is a miscarriage, and while that was extremely painful, I know in the depths of my soul that what Anne went through must have been excruciating, gut-wrenching. How did she get up each day and breath let alone live? Am I really so much like this woman? Do I have a clue what it’s like to live as she did? Am I really struggling? Do I have the right to grapple? Somewhere deep inside I hear a still small voice whisper a yes, and I am reminded of a quote from the movie Ghost Town "Your...Your story, it's not boring and ordinary by the way. I mean, we just get one life, you know? Just one. You can't live someone else's or think it's more important, just because it's more dramatic. What happens matters. Maybe only to us, but it matters. " Gwen to Pincus

"What happens matters. Maybe only to us, but it matters.” I am reminded yet again I matter, if to no one else than to God! I am here for a reason and a time to live out some purpose designed only for me. My life will make a ripple that will affect others for good or for bad depending on how I live it. I need to grapple and strive, to work things out, to find my purpose just as everyone must (some maybe sooner than others). In my time, I pray that I will find balance and grace and peace that my soul so longs for. And, in doing so, I hope that all will come together like a completed jigsaw puzzle revealing the picture of my true person, my soul purified in the light of the Lord.

(Names changed to protect the innocent)

Lindberg, Anne. Introduction. Gift of the Sea. New York: Pantheon, 1955. 9-10. Print.

Lindberg, Anne. "2." Gift of the Sea. New York: Pantheon, 1955. 22-23. Print.

Ghost Town. Dir. David Koepp. By David Koepp and John Kamps. Prod. Gavin Polone. Perf. Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Téa Leoni. Paramount Pictures, 2008. Film. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Longing


Lately my heart has been heavy to the point of breaking.  There is so much pain and suffering, meanness and ugliness, violence and hatred in the world.  I’ve written before that life is hard and just when I think it can’t get harder or more complicated it does.  It always seems like I’m being pelted with snowballs and I have no snow to return fire with.  The wind is knocked out of me and before I catch my breath another follows quicker than the last.

I’m not just speaking about the mess and chaos in my life, I’m talking about the rest of life, the part that happens out beyond my front door, beyond my neighborhood, beyond my community, beyond my town, beyond my state or even my country.  Although for the first time massive violence happened not just in my state and town but my own backyard, right next to one of my doctors’ offices and shopping plazas.  Not once but two days in a row.

As it unfolded I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.  I didn’t personally know anyone who lost their life or even the injured victims but I knew people who knew people.  My BIL worked in the trauma hospital where the survivors were taken, he helped to care for them.  How do you process such violence?  How do you make it palatable for a child to understand without scaring them?  How do you shield a child suffering with anxiety from everything going on yet teach them how to be aware and what to do if they found themselves in a similar situation.  Why do I even have to explain these things to my teens, let alone my little people?

As I pondered all of this I considered that the world may have just finally lost its mind, all compassion, and understanding completely.  I wondered has evil finally won?  How is it possible, Jesus came to conquer evil and death, HOW can evil be winning?!  As I really thought about this over the past couple of weeks I realized evil has reared its ugly head from the beginning of time; from the time Eve took a bite of an apple because she was beguiled by a serpent.  (Why would satin come as a serpent?  Why not something majestic?  Why appear as a serpent, what about the serpent sucked Eve in?  My other constant question is what in the heck was Adam doing?  I mean he saw her talking to Satin why didn’t he intervene?)  From the time Eve believed Satin’s lies and was kicked out of the Garden of Eden we have lived with violence and evil.  After all Cain attacked and killed Abel, his own brother, and why because he was jealous!  From that point on we have had tremendous violence, blood-shed, and carnage throughout the world in every era.

So why now does it seem as if violence throughout the world is happening all over at warp speed?  I believe it’s has to do with media advancements and social media.  We not only hear about things within minutes of it happening we are transported there via TV, the internet, videos, Tweets, Snapchats etc.  We are literally seeing what the victims see, hearing what they hear and fully imagining what pain they must be enduring.

Tonight I was contemplating my own life, my own accomplishments or lack thereof, asking myself why does God seem to be so evident throughout some people’s lives and I often feel like He’s taken a personal hiatus from mine.  A very real and very vivid thought came into my head.  When our Lord was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking God please don’t make me do this, what was he truly experiencing?  Was He filled with immense fear, and tremendous pain?  Did every precious life cut short from violence pass through His mind like a movie?  Did He feel every heartache of a mother who’s lost her child?  Did He feel the humiliation of every person ever treated lower than an animal?  Did He experience every lost or broken dream?  Did He become familiar with the pain and suffering of victims of extreme violence and torcher?  Was Jesus Christ given full knowledge and understanding of how it was going to be for every painful and hurtful thing ever experienced by any human soul from the beginning of time to the end of time?  Is that why he asked God to please don’t make me do this?  Is that why he sweat blood as He prayed for a different way?

How could God the Father send His son to earth to live amongst the lowest of low knowing what He would have to experience and go through?  How could any loving father do this?   And, why as the Son would He choose to take it all on?  Why should He?  He was sinless, perfect, and blameless, He had no reason to accept the Father’s will except for the fact that He LOVED!  He LOVED!  He loved God His father and He loved all of us, even the ones He knew would reject Him.

I don’t know what Jesus experienced, if it all played out before Him?  If He felt the immense pain of every human soul that ever lived?  My meager mind cannot wrap around the idea that Jesus was both man and God.  What did He actually feel and think?  Was it a man’s feelings and thoughts or were they the feeling and thoughts of an omnipotent God?  I continually fall back on my own human experience and contemplate, what must Jesus have gone through to be able to accept God’s will for His life as if it was his own will.  I can’t even begin to imagine His pain and suffering.  Yet, I am so grateful that even if I were the only person living on the face of the earth, Jesus would still have come to die for me, to save me from my selfish sins.  I am so grateful for His undying love for me and willingness to endure all the pain and suffering so that I may have eternal life with Him one day.  Even if I don’t always feel a connection or His presence or I’m overcome with human emotion and forget, somewhere deep inside He waits for me.  I know He is always there waiting, loving me.  There will never be words or deeds or emotions to show how eternally grateful I am that the Father sent the Son and the Son accepted the Father’s will.

Right now though, my heart is heavy.  I long to sit at His feet, place my head on His lap and feel His loving peace.  To just be in His presence and worship Him.  For once I truly want to be Mary instead of Martha.   I want to forget everything in the world around me and just be with my Lord!  Just be in His loving presence.  Just be in His presence.  Just be with Him.  To just be.


Picture taken from http://iamaruby.com/group/womenatthewell

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love, Life, Mess


Love.  There are 28 definitions for love at dictionary.com.  Is it a feeling or is it an emotion, or is it an action?



Life.  Dictionary.com lists 35 definitions for life.  It lists everything from existence to risking one’s life.

What I know about love and life can be summed up in one word, messy.  Life is messy!  Love is even messier!  I hate mess and chaos and disorder!  I repeatedly read that God is not a God of mess, He is a God of order, peace and calm and yet here I am in mess and chaos and disorder.  I’m not just talking about physical mess.  I’m talking about the four aspects of our human condition being a mess.  How did I get here?  Ironically as I write, this one thing keeps coming to mind “If life is a like a bowl of cherries why am I in the pits?” the title of a book I’ve never read.

I once read how life is not peaks and valleys.   Our best times aren’t on the summit and our worst times aren’t in the deepest pits.  Life instead, is like railroad tracks.  One track is our best stuff, the other our worst, which rail you focus on is what your mood and outlook is.  When I think about this analogy I imagine being on a railroad hand car.


I’m pumping with all my might through the twists and turns, ups and downs, on the two parallel tracks of life.  Sometimes the track is easy and straight, others I’m pumping like mad to get up the hill, and yet others I’m traveling down a hill at the speed of light.  At the bottom of the hill I find a very sharp curve.  It’s here the car leans so far to one side or the other that it’s barely hanging on the track.  That’s when I feel like I’m focusing on one track more than the other.

For several years now I’ve found that I’ve hit those sharp curves much more than I’ve enjoyed straightaways and therein lies the mess.  I mean gravity and motion just takes over when you are whipping around those curves, everything on your car starts to slide or goes flying.  How are you supposed to keep pumping, steer and hold onto all that stuff being pulled by the forces of motion?
 
Love makes life messier than it already is.  Why is it when you love people, family, significant others, friends, whoever, some sort of pain has to be involved.  Even if your entire life and relationship is perfect, which clearly it never is, one of you will feel the pain of loss through death.  Unless of course you are both killed in some tragic accident which is highly unlikely.  And, why is it the people we love the most, make us the craziest?!  Isn’t the mess of what’s going on in the world enough to make us crazy?  Do we have to add more crazy when it comes to loved ones and friends?  Why is there so much drama in life?  Obviously, I know this is the stuff life and stories are made of, and if we didn’t have drama or tragedies what would Shakespeare or Austin or Dickens have written about?  I mean don’t they tell writers to write about what they know?  Their experiences?

Am I here, standing in the middle of this vortex of emotions, ADD, loss, learning disabilities, strained relationships, broken stuff, anxiety, lack of funds, a messy house, arguments, clutter, and pain in order to gain experience?  I long for peace and calm. 

Crazy Comic Book Inspired Tornado

I feel as if I’m The Sorcerer's Apprentice and I have unleashed more than I can possible handle EVER, forget about at one time!  I desperately want the sorcerer to come and rescue me, and yet I fear I’ve let him down or I’m going to get in trouble.


What am I supposed to learn?  Is it all just for experience?  What is my story, my opus?  Somehow I feel that I’m missing out but I’m not quite sure on what.  Is it living in the moment despite the mess, chaos, and pain?  Is it accepting this is my calling with less complaining and more gratitude?  I feel so ill-equipped, so inadequate most of the time.  I would really like a handbook please!  If hitchhikers can have a guide to the galaxy why can’t I have one to help me maneuver through these mines?  I want to slow down, notice the coal or gold or gems as I pass by and stop the feeling of careening out of control.


We are heading into the second week of lent, I’m working very hard to spend time with God in the classroom of silence as Matthew Kelly says.  Do you know how hard it is to find silence in a house with eight other people (several of which have ADD), two dogs and a cat?  I reaffirm daily “I’ll do better today.  I won’t lose my temper today.  I’ll be more patient, kind, loving, fill in the blank.”  And yet, at the end of the day I must once again apologize for my failures.  I am trying, and as I say those words out loud I can only think of Yoda telling Luke to “do or do not there is no try”.  Life isn’t like school, I’m pretty sure A’s aren’t handed out for effort.

As I try to close this, I realize this did not go anywhere near how I thought it would.  Plus, I have no idea how to fix what’s broken, how to clean up the mess, how to restore order and bring about calm.  I have no idea what I’m doing lately.  Rainer Maria Rilke wrote “...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”  The first time I read this quote I had no idea what it meant.  I still don’t understand what it means any more than I understand the mess in my life right now, and somehow, I think it’s fitting and appropriate.  I think if I keep asking questions and I spend time in the classroom of silence with God, something may just be revealed to me.  Then again maybe not, maybe I’m just supposed to constantly search out, seek my Lord.  As I wrote in my very first blog post Living at Wits End means turning, reaching, seeking for God, praying for Him to give me direction and answers.  Also, just maybe, sometimes it means that He will come in like the sorcerer.  He will save the day, clean up the mess, and after, like all wonderful fathers He will pull me up into His lap and tell me its OK, we’ll figure it all out together.

Photos courtesy of:  Walt Disney, wikipedia.org,Kalamazoo Manufacturing Company, G L Stock Images